I use Google Chrome as my Web browser in part because of its awesome library of extensions. These are applications and utilities, often made by developers who don’t work at Google, that you can add on top of the browser to make it better and do more for you.
Think of it like tricking out a standard automobile, or adding modern appliances to a humdrum apartment. That shiny new dishwasher is way better than cleaning your dishes by hand, isn’t it?
Without stretching a metaphor to its breaking point, here are the Chrome extensions I use daily, and that I can’t imagine surfing the Internet without. All are free, and clicking their names will take you to a page where you can install them on your own Chrome browser.
(Oh, and if you’re using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer: Try a simple search for these extensions, or similar ones! Many of the ones I’m listing are available for your browser, too.)
Have you ever filled out an enormous form on a website, or written an epic comment, only to have the site crash before you can post it? Oh, no! You lost all your work, and now you have to start over again!
Not with Lazarus running. The extension autosaves everything you enter into any text box on the Internet, so that if you accidentally close the window, or the site crashes, you can simply go back to the site and reload the text with a click. Lazarus is one of the major reasons my hair is not completely gray. My hair thanks you, Lazarus, and I thank you, too.
Because of the ongoing war between Twitter and Facebook, photos from Instagram (a Facebook property) do not appear in your feed when browsing through Twitter.com. If one of your friends tweets out an Instagram photo, you have to click the link and go to another website to view it. Annoying, time-consuming, and messy.
InstaTwit automatically displays Instagram photos in your feed. Just click the tweet, wait a millisecond, and — boom — there’s the sepia-toned puppy frolicking in the grass.
3. Hola Better Internet
If you’ve ever been outside the United States — or if you live in another country — and tried to watch a show on Hulu or Netflix, you’ve probably come across a message telling you that “This video is not available in your region.”
Certain videos are “region-locked,” which means they can be viewed only if a website detects that you are located in certain places. Hola lets you pretend to be in almost any country you want, no matter where you are, so you can watch those videos anyway.
Caveat: Some critics have expressed concerns over Hola’s legality and whether or not it opens you up to privacy concerns. I’m taking my chances with it for now, because even when I’m in Canada, I need my Daily Show.
One of the joys of Twitter is reading new tweets as they arrive — especially when you’re watching a live sporting event or an awards show. The only problem is that you have to click a button at the top of Twitter.com to get the tweets to appear.
Refresh for Twitter saves you that step. It automatically loads new tweets on Twitter.com so that you don’t have to hover your cursor over the View 107 new Tweets button. (Another option: The TweetDeck app for Chrome is pretty slick, too.)
This one’s simple: Whenever you open up a new tab on your browser, Momentum replaces the bland, utilitarian Chrome page with a beautiful photo of a landscape, the time, an inspirational quote, and the option to show you the tasks you want to complete for that day. Mostly, I just like the pretty pictures.
6. Save to Pocket
Pocket is an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets that lets you save articles, columns, and other text-y features to your device to read later, with or without an Internet connection. I store away all of my longer reads from magazines and newspapers on the Pocket app and then read them later, on the subway ride home or on the couch after work. (The app, in fact, used to be called “Read It Later.” Descriptive!)
The Save to Pocket extension functions as a button that beams any Web article to your Pocket app. Whenever you’re on a page that you want to read later, just hit the button, and the text will be saved to your Pocket app whenever your device has a WiFi signal. Yes, it works on Yahoo Tech articles, too!